tv Quadriga - The International Talk Show LINKTV August 7, 2015 9:00am-9:31am PDT
over. is the turkish president erdogan just trying to fight terrorism? or is he on an escalation force designed to weaken political opponents ahead of new elections? your host this week is peter craven. peter: a very warm welcome indeed. our topic this week -- the topic we are discussing is turkey, erdogan's doubleday. i've three observers and commentators. i would like to introduce them without any further ado. beginning with ines pohl, who has been the editor for the daily mail but that is behind her and she will forever be the deutsche welle correspondent. also with us is alan posener
who is a regular contributor to "die welt." turkey has every right to pursue kurdish terrorists he says and turkey has been left in the lurch. i'm delighted to welcome deger akal who has worked for several years and and kara -- ankara. deger believes that the turkish people are more progressive than their politicians. what we are seeing his massive destabilization and the region and my sense is that you blame erdogan for the escalation. why? ms. pohl: he lost his majority
in june and i think this is why he is increasing his attacks on the pkk and i said this is a cynical game of fire. we do not know where this will lead to or when and how this can be ended. what we do know is that we need the kurdish fighters to fight i.s. this is where erdogan really plays and we should be aware that he is unpredictable he might increase the violence against pkk. peter: alan, i get the impression you feel sorry for the turkish leader. mr. posener: i'm not sorry for mr. erdogan. i'm sorry for the situation in turkey. turkey has on its board, mr. assad, a mass murderer on a terrible scale and the west has done nothing.
turkey has demanded for years and years that there be a safe haven and a no-fly zone established on its border. this is what nato should have done. since we left them in the lurch turkey has been trying to pursue its own course, supporting everyone who will fight including i.s. now they have turned against i.s. and that is a good thing. instead of saying this is a good thing let's support them now we say they must not attack the pkk. why mustn't they? it is not a militant organization it is a terrorist organization. turkey has a right to attack terrorist organizations -- end of story. peter: turkey's largest army in the region and has the backing of nato and the u.s. it has a sputtering but strong economy. it doesn't sound like a company that needs to be defended. mr. posener: what turkey needs
is solidarity with its nato partners. they were in nato throw the whole cold war and we could rely on them when we were fighting the cold war and now that they have a hot war on their borders they need to be able to rely on us. we need to do what it takes to support turkey even if mr. erdogan is not 100% the leader we would want turkey to have. that is not our problem. that is not our business. and as a member of nato turkey needs our solidarity and not our criticism and sang well be careful you don't hit one civilian as if we and afghanistan or wherever where wherever we are fighting terrorism as if we were very careful that we didn't kill the occasional civilian when we attacked the taliban. double standards. not double game peter: you're smiling. ms. akal: i agree with both
views. some easy to evaluate what is going on right now. there are regions and i think the perspective should be more focused on constructive way to handle the issue. of course erdogan has political and domestic calculations he is moving forward towards early elections and he is trying to gain the nationalistic vote. he is angry with the kurdish population he is used to when he is the only leader who has won so many elections and got a single party government and everything single time he loses -- peter: he is going to war on two fronts. ms. akal: i don't agree with -- i do think turkey is going to war. turkey was in the us-led
coalition against the islamic state for a long time and it was a decision taken by turkey to open its bases is a military decision. turkey has been maybe seemed a bit reluctant because it is a neighboring country. but on the backstage we know quite well that turkey is quite active against the islamic state. maybe too late and maybe with different views and approaches toward the region, but i don't believe that turkey is leading to war. it is way too late for turkey to step back from the peace process. turkey needs the peace process. we have seen reports this morning, important reports from the pro kurdish political movements and we have seen -- one of the pkk leaders in europe. we have seen very positive statements coming from all five.
apparently the state officials responsible for the meeting had met with them yesterday and all sides have agreed that they want to continue with the peace process. the problem is -- how? ms. pohl: the question we really have to ask is why did they start this war now? if you look back at the early 80's or 90's, sure. there were many terrorist attacks led by pkk. 60,000 people got killed but when we look in the last 4-6 years that terror really shrink. when you consider what hdp did within the last year, we have to ask ourselves -- i would give this question to you. what could be the reason for erdogan to now start fighting with pkk in this very moment when we need the fighters of pkk
fighting i.s.? what other than a domestic reason? mr. posener: the first reason is that he is not taking kurdish fighters he is attacking the pkk you're doing zilch against the i.s. so why is he doing it? all politics is also interior politics. he has to prove to the generals whom he has done more for than anyone before, to put in their place that he is still attacking turkey's old foe. the pkk. he may even want to raise some nationalist sentiment but the point is, the pkk broke the truce, they attacked and killed turkish policeman and he had to react. and he reacted how he did. you can ask that it could have been done a different day but he did what he did and he had the
right to do that. peter: the turkish people -- are they happy to see or are they happier to see turkish forces pounding pkk positions or i.s. positions or both? ms. akal: i will be able answer this question because i really do not know. but what i can say is that turkish people do not want more. i will think they would prefer anything because -- that is why the government was also reluctant in getting into military action against the islamic state. turkish people for the first time in 40 years have enjoyed prosperity. no attacks or terrorism and this is so important. they have enjoyed it and they note what it is not to be in war or in conflict. i think turkish people don't want war.
akp has 140% of the vote but hdp got 30% of the vote. if you allow me to add something about the pkk, it is not a homogenous entity. it is not an organization. there are different angles and some who think is legitimate to have an arms struggle and there are others like hdp think the political process is more important. the dynamics of the pkk leaders in europe they what the peace process to continue. we've seen a lot of reports lately related to iran's influence in the arms struggle. there are accusations toward iran that they are behind some of the attacks that they don't want the peace process because it would enable turkey to be
against the islamic state. this stops turkey as well. peter: deger akal says the turks want peace but we have the kurds and the americans attacking i.s. together what does the west think about all this? it is difficult to think that the u.s. and germany do not necessarily see eye to eye. >> the turkish president is a key strategic ally in the fight against the islamic state. he wants to close turkey's borders to areas controlled by i.s. cutting off access to potential recruits. he is allowing the u.s. to carry out missions against the jihadists and he is also said turkish fighter planes to attack i.s. positions. that is why the u.s. government is continuing to back erdogan
as well as his campaign against the kurdish pkk. peter: what i would like to ask you the deal they got out of this access to the airbases -- surely, president obama must be concerned about the fact that the turks are focusing their attacks on the kurds. ms. pohl: i think this is a tricky situation for the united states. on the one hand and this is understandable, the duty the support of turkey. they need their basis. they need their bases to fly their jones which they need -- to fly there dronesw which they need to fight i.s. as germans we have to say we are thankful for that. we did not what to send in our own soldiers and i'm happy to say that over and over again alan. [laughter] but this is a dangerous game we
are playing here. germany gave weapons to the pkk fighters. indirectly. now they have the weapons and now we will bombard them. what is pretty obvious is that president obama doesn't have a big strategy on this area. mr. posener: he wants to underscore that he has really thought it through because it is a volatile situation with a volatile leader. ms. pohl: this very case, i think mr. obama doesn't have any larger strategy, unfortunately. peter: what about turkey allen there are a lot of people outside turkey and inside who agree that it helps to create the islamic state. mr. posener: quite frankly that is bullshit. the main thing is with iran --
look, we had president assad fighting a war against his own people. we had in iraq the shiite leadership fighting against the sunni with the help of all of these people at the past of iran. against these there was an organization of sunni people. some of them were extremists like i had. turkey was always clear that assad had to go. the west said if assad crosses this redline and uses chemical weapons we will have to get rid of a sod. that was it -- rid of asaad. and we didn't. that is when we let turkey down. we will support anyone fighting against assad and that was not farsighted either. peter: president erdogan is accessed with the battle against assad, i like to make the point again, did turkey helped to establish islamic state in the first place?
i don't think we can just heard of use rude language. mr. posener: i'm sorry about that. i didn't mean you. ms. akal: i think turkey has just foreseen what this would lead to. i think everyone should have been upset with. but turkey and the u.s. i remember very well had lists of organizations of whom to give arms at the time. i remember the previous u.s. ambassador saying i.s. was not on that list but turkey gave them arms. i think it is not a good idea to just arm groups in conflict areas such as syria, iraq. because we have the experience from afghanistan and pakistan. that was a mistake from the beginning on. peter: because of what germany
has done you think they would have better instincts? ms. pohl: germany did. the reason was we did not want to get involved with our own army. we should be honest with that. it was very shortsighted. from all people involved in this regard. peter: another problem is that germany's friends, the kurds are erdogan's enemy. ms. pohl: well the kurds -- i'm glad you made the point. the kurds do not exist. there are many organizations fighting for peace now. 20% of the people living in turkey are kurds. just want to be accepted as christians went to be accepted. this is one big problem with erdogan is he just wants this centralized islamic state were only muslims are accepted. exactly right. we also have to keep this picture in mind when we talk about kurds and their interests. in the regent and also turkey
itself. peter: one thing we can agree on is that germany is dismayed by turkey's attacks on kurdish citizens in northern iraq. we have these images. >> kurdish fighters and kobani have defended the city for weeks against attempted i.s. advances. many view them as heroes. together with pkk fighters, curtis peshmerga fighters have repelled i.s. invaders. at the moment, they are the only groups to have formed a functional democratic community. could the turkish air attacks cost the kurds, the staunchest partner in the fight against i.s. to turn their backs on the west? peter: so how much credit should we be giving to the kurds.
for having established a very plausible and functioning state. a viable state at a time when in the region there are so many failed and failing states. >> i think we should consider that it is a big success but it's also a success because turkey has lately been very close to resigning who is the leader of the iraqi kurdistan regional government. i think this shows us how we can achieve stability in the region. this means consensus and regional powers, global powers. they need to sit and talk and have common interests which the kurds and turks have. it is an enormous amount -- they are very good close
relationships and i have to add for example that barzani is really angry with pkk right now and as you said they are different groups. but i think the kurdistan regional government is a good example for us to understand the ways we can achieve stability and i think that's why the peace process in turkey with the kurdish and the kurds is so important because it will help fighting the islamic state but not only with military means but with other political means and this is of great importance. peter: alan, i'm very anxious to hear -- ines was cautioning that there is not one great big curd but if there's one thing they want it is their own self-determination. should they get it? turkey would oppose that. mr. erdogan would oppose that. mr. posener: it depends what you
mean by self-determination. if it means having their own state i would sate no, it would destroy turkey as a democracy and a country. it would lead to civil war. so should there be a kurdish state in turkey -- no. should there be a kurdish state in northern iraq? perhaps. could there be a kurdish enclave in syria? that remains to be seen. so should the kurds have autonomy within turkey? of course. has gone further tour that then mr. erdogan. the very fact that the kurdish party could get 50% has to do with the fact that this has been de-tabooized. peter: you say has been, but it is really a case of have been.
many commentators are talking again about civil war and is difficult to see nato supporting a partner that is turning back to the days of three decades of conflict and 40,000 lives lost. mr. posener: if that happened we would be and a quandary but in the past we supported the turkish generals in the war against the kurds and i don't think we are in any moral position to criticize erdogan because he attacked a few paik -- pkk basis. -- bases. erdogan is illegitimate president and hdp -- is an legitimate president, and hdp is a legitimate government. ms. pohl: we have to keep in mind that erdogan really helped with the kurdish language but he is also suppressing the free press. mr. posener: by now. ms. pohl: he is somewhere
between russia. erdogan is a very complex and in my sense, dangerous precedent in many ways -- president in many ways. mr. posener: agreed. [laughter] ms. pohl: so if you're talking about kurdistan need to keep in mind who erdogan is. peter: we were talking about erdogan's double game. i don't know if it is a game or a gamble, but my question is intriguing. is mr. erdogan himself going to survive in the medium-term given the turmoil emerging? ms. akal: it's difficult to say. i don't see any reason for him not to. he got 41% -- he got. not the hdp but president erdogan who got 40% of the vote. i think turkey and aired one
will need to learn what consensus is. i think he managed the peace process as though he would control everything but now he is learning there are two sides to the peace process and he needs to make concessions and at a certain point he will have to do them. peter: that is a very optimistic take on mr. erdogan, do you share it? ms. pohl: he owns the media, he will be reelected. there is no alternative. this is just the truth. we made a big mistake nearly 10 years ago when we did not force more of the integration process into the european union. we mustn't let something like that happen again. he must be our strategical partner but as partners we have to be critical. mr. posener: he is going to stay.
i agree totally. i also agree that we lost turkey -- europe lost turkey by not pulling it in. we didn't push turkey out of nato after we pushed it out of the eu. this means we have to present a plan for dealing with his nemesis, with assad, and not focus on the kurdish question. focus on how to deal with mr. assad and alleviate the legitimate concerns about the southern border. help mr. erdogan. if we do not offer anything we cannot pressure him. no stick without a caret. -- carrot. peter: thank you to all three of you. if you enjoy the show, do come back again next week. get in touch with us via facebook or twitter.